Carlos López-Otín is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Oviedo (Spain). His academic training took place at the Universities of Zaragoza and Complutense of Madrid, where he was awarded his PhD in 1984. His scientific work has been developed at the Centro Ramón y Cajal in Madrid, the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center in Madrid, and the Universities of Lund-Sweden, New York and Harvard-USA. Currently, Carlos López-Otín combines his teaching responsibilities at the University of Oviedo, with his research lines on Cancer and Aging Biology as well as on the Functional Analysis of Genomes. Shortly after his arrival at the University of Oviedo more than 25 years ago, Carlos Lopez-Otin focused on the study of the involvement of proteolytic systems in pathological processes, especially in cancer. The work of Lopez-Otin’s laboratory in this field has yielded the identification of more than 60 novel human proteases dysregulated in different malignant tumors. They have also delineated essential biological information in regards to the functional role of many of these genes in cancer and in other pathological processes, including the devastating syndromes of accelerated aging. They have also proposed a global approach for the study of proteases in health and disease through novel concepts such as Degradomics and Degradome, together with the development (in collaboration with Chris Overall) of high-throughput methods that tackle these concepts. In parallel studies, the Lopez-Otin group has been involved in the functional annotation of the human genome and other genomes and degradomes of biomedical and evolutionary relevance, from chimpanzees and other primates to mice and whales.
Since 2009, Carlos Lopez-Otin co-directs the Spanish contribution to the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC-CLL). This scientific work has led to the unveiling of the complete tumor genome sequence of hundreds of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and to the identification of recurrent mutations in several genes, which have become preferential targets for therapeutic intervention in this frequent neoplasia. The work of Lopez-Otin’s laboratory in molecular oncology has also led to the discovery of several proteases with paradoxical anti-tumor and anti-metastatic-properties, as well as two new genes implicated in the progression of head and neck carcinomas. Closely related to the Cancer Genome projects, Lopez-Otin’s group has identified the genetic determinants of several hereditary diseases. Foremost amongst these studies is the discovery of two novel premature aging syndromes, the Nestor-Guillermo Progeria Syndrome (NGPS) and the Atypical Neonatal Progeria Syndrome (ANPS). Their work has also led to the finding of genes causing hereditary sudden death, microcytic anemia, bone abnormalities and familial melanoma. These genomic studies have represented the basis of the creation by Carlos Lopez-Otin of a program called Social Genomics, which has made it possible to study and in some cases to unveil the genomic basis of inherited diseases from families coming to his laboratory in search for help, health and knowledge.
The work of Lopez-Otin’s group at the University of Oviedo has also contributed to clarify the molecular mechanisms associated with physiological aging and their links with cancer. They have also reported the first integrative analysis of the molecular and cellular hallmarks of aging and proposed different strategies for the metabolic control of longevity. Moreover, they have recently developed a method to facilitate the cell reprogramming of aged human cells to pluripotent cells with embryonic properties. Finally, the Lopez-Otin’s group has identified a new loss-of-proteostasis mechanism of myeloid transformation, connecting age-associated alterations in hematopoietic stem cells with the pathogenesis of hematological malignancies.These works have been collected in roughly 400 articles in international journals and have been cited to date more than 38.000 times, with an aggregate Hirsch index of h=95. Carlos Lopez-Otin is a member of numerous scientific societies, committees and journal editorial boards. He is also a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences and the European Academy, among others. Throughout his scientific career, he has received different national and international awards and distinctions, such as the Doctorate “Honoris Causa” from the International University Menendez Pelayo, the University of Zaragoza and the Autonomous University of Chile, the “Rey Jaime I” Award in Research, the European “25th FEBS Jubilee” Award in Biochemistry, the Mexico Award in Science and Technology and the “Santiago Ramón y Cajal” National Research Award. In 2017, he has been awarded an “ERC Advanced Grant” from the European Union.